Young Muslim women are often forced to lead double lives in Europe. They have sex in public restrooms and stuff mobile phones in their bras to hide their secret existences from strict families. They are often forbidden from visiting gynecologists or receiving sex ed. In the worst cases, they undergo hymen reconstruction surgery, have late-term abortions or even commit suicide.
Gülay has heard it from her mother so many times: An unmarried woman who has lost her virginity might as well be a whore.
Gülay, 22, lives in Berlin's Neukölln, a district that is home to a high number of Muslim immigrants, and has little in common with the cliché of the "girl with the headscarf." She wears tight jeans, low-cut blouses and has long hair that she doesn't keep covered. She is self-confident and looks people in the eye. Gülay plans to begin a training program to work as an airport ground hostess next year. At first glance, she comes across as a poster child for successful integration.
Nevertheless, she is adamantly opposed to seeing her name in print, just as she would never meet a journalist for an interview in one of the hookah bars in her neighborhood that are so popular among Arab and Turkish immigrants. She is worried that someone could overhear her talking about her family's strict morals, and about the rigid code of honor in her social environment that prevents girls from having sex before marriage and forbids them from having boyfriends.
Gülay is thinking about how best to sum up her dilemma. She nervously stirs her tea before launching into a litany of complaints. "The boys can screw around as much as they want, but if a girl does it she can expect to be shot," she says. "That's just sick." She first had sex five years ago, and it completely changed her life. Since then, she has been deathly afraid of being branded by her family as a dishonorable girl -- or, worst yet, punished and cast out. . . .
Sex education in school is also taboo for many young Muslim girls, says Gülay, who was the only one of 15 Muslim girls in her grade who attended the classes. Her fellow female students from the most devout families, says Gülay, "asked me all kinds of questions about how to use a condom and how to get the pill. Some of them didn't know anything at all." And some, according to Gülay, believed that all they had to do after having sex was to rinse themselves thoroughly with water. Others, especially "headscarf girls," only engage in anal sex with their boyfriends, believing that in this way they can protect their "honor," says Gülay.
Taking a boy home would almost be suicidal, say the girls at the youth club. The thought alone is so unheard-of that it triggers hysterical laughter. They rattle off the places where they have their rendezvous: hallways, park benches or the public restroom on Boddin Square in Neukölln, where person can get 20 minutes of privacy for 50 cents. Some girls are lucky enough to have a boyfriend with his own car or who can at least afford to pay €20 ($27) for a hotel room. (Read more.)
Monday, January 10, 2011
Taboos and Fears Among Muslim Girls in Germany
As Muhammad's wife Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing [Muslim] women" (Sahih al-Bukhari 5825).